Tag Archives: rockaway

Program may bring $100 million to help rebuild Sandy-damaged southern Queens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program could bring roughly $100 million to help southern Queens rebuild bigger and better after Sandy.

Rockaway is set to receive $60 million, $13 million for Broad Channel and $20 million for Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach for “protection funding,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

However, through this unique program, community leaders, experts and officials in each neighborhood will form committees to determine just how the rebuilding will pan out.

“New York’s effort to build back better must be a two-pronged approach,” Cuomo said, “with the state not only leading critical infrastructure and broad investment strategies but also providing localities the resources they need to invest in their own future.”

Goldfeder said community members know their community better than anybody else and there is “no such thing as a bad idea when it comes to storm mitigation.”

“If you allow the community to have a voice, you can get things done but ensure that it’s in line with what the community desires,” he said.

Committees are still being finalized in each individual area, but the state would like to receive rebuilding proposals within eight months.

“Arguably you could see shovels in the ground within a year,” Goldfeder said.

 

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UPDATE: Seven-month-old kidnapped by Queens mother found safe


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

UPDATE: An Amber Alert has been cancelled for a seventh-month-old boy who was kidnapped by his non-custodial mother.

Both the mother, Marina Lopez, and child, Mario Danner Jr., have been found in good condition, said police.

Lopez has been arrested and charged with custodial interference, authorities said Wednesday evening.

An Amber Alert has been issued for a seventh-month-old boy who was kidnapped by his non-custodial mother.

Marina Lopez took her son during a supervised visit at an Administration for Children’s Services at 2090 7th Avenue in Manhattan at 3:05 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, said police.

Her son, Mario Danner Jr., is Hispanic, approximately 20 inches long, 25 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray t-shirt and black shorts.

Lopez is described as Hispanic, 25 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, about 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She is bi-polar and has had recent outbreaks of violence.

She was last seen wearing a pink t-shirt and floral print shorts traveling on foot, possibly toward Shore Front Parkway in Rockaway, according to officials. Lopez may be driving a tan, four-door, 1995 Lexus ES300 with New York license plate GEX1377.

Anyone with any information on this abduction is asked to call the NYPD at (866) NYS-AMBER or 9-1-1.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 84. Breezy. Winds from the NE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Friday night: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain, then a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 70. Winds from the NE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Solshyne Band Concert

Enjoy live music at Beach 97th Street and Shorefront Parkway at 7 p.m. with a popular classic rock band from Rockaway. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Spitzer submits signatures to get on comptroller ballot

Eliot Spitzer has met the deadline to file thousands of petition signatures for his bid to revive his political career by running for New York City comptroller. Read more: AP

Police: Firefighter charged in Friday’s brawl had prior arrest 

A city firefighter who was arrested for attacking and robbing an off-duty police officer in Queens also has a domestic assault record, police say. Read more: NY1

Coalition calls for change to age of adult criminal responsibility in New York

Every year, nearly 50,000 children arrested, charged and processed in New York are done so as adults, and a new coalition of advocates and lawmakers wants that to change. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Free iPads at the airport

Going to the airport used to be all about catching a flight, but now, it’s turning into an interactive experience. Read more: Fox New York

FDA sets new limits on arsenic in apple juice

Parents who have been fretting over the low levels of arsenic found in apple juice can feel better about buying one of their kids’ favorite drinks. Read more: AP

Ozone Howard Little League takes District 27 tournament


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Andy Menechella

BENJAMIN FANG

Their teamwork paid off.

The Ozone Howard Little League’s age 10-11 division won the Queens District 27 tournament on June 30, besting the Rockaway Little League in a three-game series.

“This was an overall team effort and a great accomplishment for these kids,” Ozone Howard’s manager John Miden said.

“They played hard and should be proud.”

In the first game against Rockaway, Ozone Howard’s Thomas Menechella pitched four scoreless innings and gave up a total of just two hits in an 11-0 win. Ozone Howard won the following game in similar fashion. Pitcher John Corcoran allowed just two hits and Ozone Howard’s offense exploded for a 12-0 victory.

“This team has talent and they are playing up to their potential right now,” coach Andy Menechella said. “Great pitching, timely hitting and a great overall team effort. As coaches of this team, we are proud.”

Ozone Howard’s next opponent will be the winner of a three-team race between Long Island’s Oceanside American Little League, Lynbrook Little League and Rockville Center Little League.

 

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NYC pilot to extend school day for sixth graders


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Johann Hamilton

The last bell will ring two and a half hours later for 2,000 of the city’s sixth graders starting this fall.

A pilot program will provide additional literacy training at 20 middle schools with high-needs students, including five in Queens, according to the Department of Education (DOE).

The schools are also part of a 40-school expansion of the Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI), which provides extensive literary instruction in grades six through eight.

“We are committed to ensuring that all students are prepared for college and 21st century careers, and the Middle School Quality Initiative has been central to this mission,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The Queens schools participating in the pilot are P.S./I.S. 116 William C. Hughley in Jamaica, Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway, P.S. 043 in Far Rockaway, Queens United Middle School in Springfield Gardens and Village Academy in Far Rockaway.

The $6.2 million for the MSQI expansion comes from the City Council and DOE along with contributions from the Robin Hood Foundation, a nonprofit that helps fight poverty, and other groups.

“We are confident that a daily dose of extra tutoring for students struggling with English language arts will significantly increase students’ ability to comprehend at [their] grade level across all subjects,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

However, Patricia Simmons, a school aid at P.S./I.S. 116, believes money can be allocated in better ways.

“If they’d just give the schools the supplies they need, then they wouldn’t need to extend the time,” she said. “So many classes don’t have enough textbooks or workbooks.”

Another faculty member was concerned about the age of the students in the program.

“For the little kids, it’ll be too much, but the older ones will be able to handle it,” said a teacher who wanted to remain anonymous.

Tedric Simpson, a former student, also agreed the pilot might be taxing on the sixth graders.

“It’s too much school for one day. They could maybe do it from Monday to Wednesday, but not every day,” she said.

For parents, the benefit went beyond learning.

“Some parents can’t afford babysitters, so the extra hours could be good for them,” said Jean Elie.

With additional reporting by Johann Hamilton

 

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Op-Ed: Solidarity with Oklahoma


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILLIP GOLDFEDER

When Sandy arrived seven months ago, my district, my community, and my family were severely impacted and our lives forever changed. Our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes were torn into pieces, flooded and burned down and our families left to rebuild their lives with uncertainty and despair.

We survived in southern Queens and Rockaway by helping each other and with great thanks to the kindness and generosity of our neighbors from across the country.

We have always been a strong community with a history of providing for others, but there are moments in time when the unimaginable takes place and we are forced to rely on others during our toughest challenges. Simply put, during Sandy we were not prepared.

I often look back at the days and weeks following the storm and wonder how we survived without a playbook, without a plan, and without the necessary resources. The answer is simple: we supported each other and were supported by those who have been through destruction and understood what we needed to survive.

When I heard that a natural disaster — this time a tornado — had ripped through the communities of Moore County in Oklahoma, I had a deep understanding of how they were feeling and on behalf of all of us who experienced Sandy, I needed to help. I needed to act.

Sandy survivors from across our community were inquiring about how to assist families that were struggling. I immediately reached out to my counterpart in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Paul Wesselhoft, whose district included the devastated areas of Moore County. After speaking with him, the decision was clear: I knew what I had to do for our community that strongly desired to return the favor that had been done for us just a short seven months ago. I booked the next flight to Oklahoma.

I had no plan, no agenda — only a desire to assist the thousands that were struggling to find hope. As I drove from the airport to the Capital, the only visible signs of a tornado were the many tents, hastily prepared and staffed with enthusiastic volunteers ready to receive supply donations. I stopped at each location to explain the circumstances that put me in their particular neighborhood and to say thank you for their help in the relief effort. Each encounter concluded with hugs, tears, and a rejuvenated spirit and belief that here was a light at the end of the tunnel.

I arrived in Oklahoma City and met with Wesselhoft and others including Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon to discuss the level of damage, ongoing relief efforts and what I could do to help.

Sadly, spending every waking hour in the affected communities following Sandy prepared me for what I was about to see. As I traveled through Moore, it was difficult to distinguish where the streets ended and homes began; their neighborhoods, their businesses and their homes were torn into pieces, blown away with their families left to rebuild their lives with uncertainty and despair.

The damage and devastation was eerily similar to what I witnessed in our own community post-Sandy, but I also saw the same strength, resolve, and resiliency of the families experiencing this tragedy.

On behalf of southern Queens and Rockaway, I traveled to Oklahoma to say thank you for being there for us, but more importantly, I sent a strong message that we would be there for them. I met with their leaders, thanked volunteers and worked alongside families picking through the debris with the hope of locating lost memories.

I want to thank everyone in our community that has found a way to help families in Oklahoma get back on their feet. Trucks of supplies were sent, money was donated, and volunteers from our community are now on the ground repaying the debt. As we continue our own recovery, please keep the struggling families in Oklahoma in your thoughts and prayers.

Goldfeder represents Assembly District 23

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Mostly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 73. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 55. Winds from the West at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the North after midnight.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Queens New Music Festival 

The New York-based composers’ group, Random Access Music, presents the second annual Queens New Music Festival from May 16-19, at The Secret Theatre Main Stage in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Sources: Weiner to launch mayoral campaign next week 

It was a month ago that Anthony Weiner re-emerged, granting interviews to NY1 and other media outlets, testing the waters for a mayoral run. Now, he’s prepared to dive in. Read more: NY1

Rockaway co-op: City damaged our property 

The city’s rush to re-open Rockaway beaches by Memorial Day is undermining an oceanfront co-op’s efforts to repair its own damages from Superstorm Sandy, according to its board members. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens woman gets 1 To 3 years for jumping bail after stealing man’s life savings

A Queens woman who jumped bail after being convicted of swindling more than $800,000 was sentenced Wednesday to one to three years in prison. Read more: NY1

Obama calls IRS flap ‘inexcusable,’ announces resignation of acting IRS chief

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he was “angry” at IRS officials who inappropriately targeted conservative groups for scrutiny, announcing that his administration had sought and accepted Steven Miller’s resignation as interim commissioner of the IRS. Read more: NBC News

White House releases Benghazi emails, seeks to defuse controversy

The White House on Wednesday sought to defuse controversy over its handling of last year’s killing of four Americans in Benghazi, releasing emails that show how Obama administration officials presented a scrubbed-down version of the attacks to the public. Read more: Reuters

No winner pushes Powerball jackpot to $475 million

If your Powerball ticket didn’t win Wednesday, don’t worry. No one else’s did either, pushing the jackpot to a near record. Read more: ABC New York

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 63. Breezy. Winds from the ENE at 10 to 20 mph. Friday night: Clear. Low of 50. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 15 mph shifting to the NE after midnight.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Jamaica Meets Spain

At 8 p.m., the cultures of Jamaica and Spain will come together at Flushing Town Hall. Tribal Legacy and Flamenco Latino share the stage with dance lessons and a musical jam. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Former Liu campaign associates found guilty in straw donor fraud case

Jenny Hou, City Comptroller John Liu’s former campaign treasurer, and Oliver Pan, a former Liu campaign fundraiser, were found guilty in Manhattan Thursday in a case involving their organizing straw donor schemes. Read more: NY1

Man allegedly runs down friend in Long Island parking lot

A Queens man is facing charges after police say he intentionally hit another man with his car following an altercation on Long Island. Read more: ABC New York

New York cracks down on gas price gouging after Hurricane Sandy

Twenty-five gas stations have settled price-gouging claims made against them immediately after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday. Read more: ABC New York/AP 

Rockaway streets innundated with second wave of sand

Rockaway residents are discovering that their beloved boardwalk was more than an amenity for beach-goers — it was also a vital barrier against the relentless forces of nature. Read more: New York Daily News

Boston Marathon suspect’s remains claimed

A funeral home has claimed the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a gunbattle with police after an intense manhunt. Read more: AP

FDA: Ingredient in antibacterial soap, other products may be dangerous

It’s a chemical that’s been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, from the body wash in your bathroom shower to the knives on your kitchen counter to the bedding in your baby’s basinet. Read more: AP/CBS New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Tuesday: Overcast in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 66. Winds from the East at 10 to 15 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 48. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Louis Armstrong at Freedomland – Never Before Heard Recordings of an American Icon, a Listening Session & Lecture

Listen to never before-heard recordings of Louis Armstrong at the Langston Hughes Community Library and Cultural Center. The event celebrates International Jazz Day and the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month with the public premier of newly discovered recordings by the beloved trumpeter and entertainer at a Bronx amusement park in 1961. The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Troubled NYC Councilman Halloran investigated for sexual misconduct

He’s already facing trial on corruption charges — and now there are new troubles for City Councilman Dan Halloran.Read more: CBS New York

Boston investigation finds female DNA on pressure cooker bomb

Lab work has turned up a surprising new clue in the Boston Marathon bombings case. Read more: ABC New York

Thousands of New York middle school students to see school day extended as late as 6 p.m.

Thousands of middle school kids will be toiling in classrooms as late as 6 p.m. as of this fall as part of the city’s effort to extend the school day. Read more: New York Daily News

Rockaway condo owners say board locked them out of their storm-ravaged homes

A group of Rockaway residents claim a tyrannical condo board has locked them out of their oceanfront homes destroyed during Superstorm Sandy. Read more: New York Daily News

Mostly positive reaction to Jason Collins’ coming out as gay

Jason Collins came out, got widely congratulated for his courage, and the games went on. It was really that simple. Read more: AP/ABC  New York

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy making for dreadful allergy season

Six months after Superstorm Sandy, an unwelcome development is set to make the months to come miserable for allergy sufferers. Read more: CBS New York

Assemblymember Goldfeder announces Summer Reading Challenge


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Kids can keep their minds sharp this summer with another chapter of the state Assembly’s Summer Reading Challenge.

The program looks to beat the “summer slide” in which kids may not keep up with reading while school’s out. Sponsored by Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, this year’s theme is “Dig into reading” for children; for tweens it’s “Beneath the Surface.”

Students can pick up materials at their local schools in the 23rd Assembly District, or at Goldfeder’s Ozone Park and Rockaway offices.

Youngsters who read with a parent for at least 15 minutes a day for 40 days through July and August get an official Assembly certificate personally delivered by their representative.

Around 250 students from P.S. 232 in Lindenwood took part in the program last summer, according to Goldfeder’s office.

Principal Lisa Josephson said students who took part last year came back in September with keen minds, ready to learn.

“Our students at P.S. 232 who do their active reading during the summer months return to school prepared,” she said. “And they get rewarded for their efforts by Assemblymember Goldfeder.”

“Learning shouldn’t stop when the last bell rings at the end of the school year,” said Goldfeder. “The Assembly’s Summer Reading Challenge offers a fun and exciting way for families to spend quality time together while parents help their children expand their imaginations and learn.”

For more information, visit www.assembly.state.ny.us/goldfeder or call 718-945-9550.

 

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MTA cuts shuttle service to Sandy-ravaged Rockaways


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of MTA

Local and citywide leaders say the MTA is throwing the Rockaways under the bus.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio joined with Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and Councilmember Donovan Richards in Far Rockaway on Friday, April 19 to decry the decreased shuttle bus service to the Sandy-affected peninsula.

A train service to the Rockaways last ran on Sunday, October 28 as the city buckled down for the storm, which left rails across Jamaica Bay severely damaged.

Since then, buses have run from the Howard Beach-JFK Station to the peninsula.

But on Monday the MTA cut bus service from 94 to 75 runs per weekday.

De Blasio contrasted the cuts with the transit authority’s new Cannonball train, a streamlined shuttle to the Hamptons. He said people with high incomes would benefit from the new train while low- to middle-income Rockaway residents would suffer from the cost-saving measure.

“The MTA can’t throw the Rockaways under the bus,” he said. “If it can expand service for Manhattanites weekending in the Hamptons, then it can afford to do right by hard-hit families in the Rockaways.”

Train service within Rockaway returned in December with the restored H train. It runs from the Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue station to Beach 90-Holland.

“This shuttle service provides an essential lifeline with the rest of New York City for our residents in one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy,” Richards said. “If anything, what we really need is more buses during peak morning and evening hours.”

Goldfeder, who has advocated for faster train service to the peninsula, noted that south Queens residents already have one of the city’s longest commutes to midtown. With families still reeling six months after the storm, the service cuts would be another blow, he said.

“Our communities are still struggling to rebuild from the damage caused by Sandy,” Goldfeder said. “And the last thing they need is to be nickeled-and-dimed for service that is crucial to helping them recover.”

The MTA, however, said the service, while decreasing, is shifting to streamline travel in and out of Rockaway.

“We’re actually improving service for the vast majority of customers who use the shuttle,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz.

There will be more shuttle buses running during rush hours, and decreased service during slower hours, he said.

Oritz said the Cannonball train follows a route that has been in operation for the past century. He added that the only recent change was making the train leave from Penn Station instead of Hunters Point.

 

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Pols call on city to reimburse out-of-pocket Sandy repair costs


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Alice Wade-Miller

Since Sandy ravaged the tristate area, homeowners battling with insurance companies have resorted to paying for damages out of their own pockets.

“Right now, we’re using our savings,” said Rose Miller, 86, of Belle Harbor. “I keep my fingers crossed every time I take money out. We’re holding our breath with each payment.”

Initially, residents like Miller were on their own without reimbursement, and local leaders stepped in to call on the city to extend a hand. City officials responded Tuesday night by announcing “qualified homeowners,” those who paid with their own money, or without a FEMA loan, would be reimbursed.

Councilmember Donovan Richards hosted a press conference on Sunday, April 21 with Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Senator James Sanders. They called on the city to reimburse people like Miller who are scrounging their savings to rebuild.

Miller and her husband have lived in their Rockaway home for over 50 years. After Sandy, the couple had to completely gut their basement, redo floors, purchase new appliances, clear wreckage outside, empty sand that had washed inside and more. Miller estimates her repairs totaled around $48,000.

“We’re not going fancy,” Miller said. “We’re just getting our lives back in order.”

A 10-foot plank from the boardwalk washed up to their front stoop, which was broken in pieces. Three family cars were also completely ruined.

“We’re still suffering,” Miller said. “People don’t realize how deeply the neighborhood is affected. All of the reactions have died down.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is set to pay out the first $1.7 billion in Sandy aid to affected areas. While homeowners in New Jersey and Nassau County will be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses, Sanders, Goldfeder and Richards said homeowners in New York City will be left in the lurch.

“We are in a crisis,” said Richards. “To say we’re not going to help these people is a crime. We are calling on the mayor’s office to reimburse homeowners. It is the right thing to do.”

The trio of politicians all said they have written to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, asking him to guarantee federal relief money go toward reimbursing homeowners.

They added that most of the city’s Sandy aid will go to infrastructure rebuilding and growth and called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to put homeowners first.

“We shouldn’t minimize any family,” Goldfeder said. “If you need the services, if you need the help, you need the city to step up and be there for you.”

The officials said the city is worried about people trying to inflate the cost of damages they suffered. But Sanders noted that if a FEMA inspector visited a damaged home, the owner would have an actual appraisal to give back to the city.

“The city is being pigheaded on an issue where they’re not helping the middle class,” he said. “If you were facing the bitter [winter] cold and you did not want to see your family tormented, you went into your pocket you did whatever you had to do and you put your home back together, [and] you should get a refund.”

Richards estimated that homeowners suffered an average of at least $50,000 in damage to their homes. Goldfeder said he sustained upwards of $60,000 to his Far Rockaway home, while Sanders cited around $30,000 in costs himself. The typical FEMA grant is about $30,000. Miller received $14,000 from FEMA.

-BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE CULLEN

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the afternoon. Fog early. High of 70. Breezy. Winds from the South at 15 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Friday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 50. Breezy. Winds from the South at 15 to 20 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 0.9 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Cultural Crossroads – Korea Meets Greece

At 8 p.m., on Friday, April 19, the cultures of Korea and Greece will meet at Flushing Town Hall, located at 137-35 Northern Boulevard in Flushing. The VonKu Pak Drum & Dance Troupe perform Korean music and dance dressed in traditional regalia followed by Yianni Papastefanou and his ensemble in an evening of traditional music and dance from the Greek Isles. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

1 of 2 Mass. bomb suspects dead; suburbs shut down

Two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during their getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left one of them dead and another still at large Friday, authorities said as the manhunt intensified for a young man described as a dangerous terrorist. Read more: AP

Indictment in Smith, Halloran mayoral bribery case

A federal grand jury has indicted State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilmember Dan Halloran for an alleged bribery plot to rig the mayoral race, according to published reports. Read more: Queens Courier

Video shows beating of Queens girls

A beat down by bullies in Astoria, Queens, that was caught on video left two middle school girls terrified to be on the street in their own neighborhood. Now the girls and their parents are turning to police at the precinct to restore their sense of safety. Read more: Fox New York

‘Good riddance, Sandy’ party at Healy’s Bar and Grill in Rockaway on Saturday to celebrate removal of name from tropical storm database

A Superstorm-battered Queens pub is throwing a going away party for Hurricane Sandy. Read more: New York Daily News

NYPD inspector testifies ‘very few’ complaints of racial profiling over stop-and-frisk

The court case over the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program has been going on for one month. Read more: CBS New York

Mayor Bloomberg: Senate gun vote ‘a disgrace’

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday called the defeat of gun restrictions in the U.S. Senate “a disgrace” and said “children lost.” Read more: Fox New York/AP

 

Mobile Command Center offers on-site help for Sandy insurance needs


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

People still dealing with Sandy-related insurance problems got a little help when the state Department of Financial Services (DFS) came to town.

A DFS Mobile Command Center set up shop on Cross Bay Boulevard on Thursday, March 21 to help with insurance needs in the wake of Sandy. About 15 to 20 people were helped between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the site, according to Peter DeLucia, director of special events for State Senator Joseph Addabbo.

Many people have had problems with insurance disbursements as they try and rebuild after the storm, DeLucia said. Addabbo and his staff have been in contact with DFS since the storm and were able to get aid to come to Howard Beach.

“We’ve been in contact with them constantly since the storm hit,” DeLucia said, adding that it was helpful for residents to work directly with DFS staffers. “There’s only so much we can do.”

DFS set up shop the next day in Rockaway with Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and helped an additional 20-plus people.

The Command Center will return to the same Howard Beach spot, at 163-50 Cross Bay Boulevard, on Saturday, March 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

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Rockaway residents take to City Hall, demand say in Sandy rebuilding


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

By day 143, Rockaway residents had had enough.

Scores traveled to the steps of City Hall on Saturday, March 23 to call on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city to help residents rebuild after Sandy.

Shoulder to shoulder with elected officials and candidates for mayor and borough president, resident after resident told personal stories of their prolonged recovery and demanded a say in how the peninsula is rebuilt.

“Now, as community residents of the Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel, we demand to always have our voices heard on what goes on with all future projects, and most importantly, to be part of the process when implementing them to protect our community from another Sandy, or any type of possible future disasters,” said Danny Ruscillo, president of the 100th Precinct Community Council. Ruscillo held a sign that became one of the chants during the hour-long press conference: “United we stand. Divided we drown.”

Senator Charles Schumer recently secured money to rebuild New York beaches, and take measures to prevent flooding.

 

The Army Corps of Engineers, which has been conducting surveys on protecting the beach-front community for more than a decade, recently said the study would take at least another year-and-a-half.

But residents like Margaret Wagner think that’s too long. Wagner said she took the trip to lower Manhattan while her husband was at home putting up sheetrock in their Broad Channel home.

“We want the studies to end tomorrow,” said Wagner. “Give us a plan today. Not a year-and-a-half from now.”
John Cori and Eddie Pastore, who run Friends of Rockaway Beach and organized the City Hall rally, have long campaigned to build better beach protection.

This was not the first time Rockaway residents have criticized Bloomberg and his administration for what they believed was a delayed reaction to the storm. On a visit to Breezy Point in November, Bloomberg was lambasted by a resident; spectators at the St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 2 booed him when he marched.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich and State Senator Joseph Addabbo both said it was crucial that those who live there have the final say in how the communities are rebuilt.

“These residents have to live with what’s left behind,” Addabbo said. “Let’s get to work for these people.”

“We heard about the federal money that Senator Schumer was able to secure and we’re very grateful for that,” Ulrich said. “But the community needs to be kept in the loop as to how that money is going to be spent.”

 

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Councilmember Eric Ulrich